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Posts from the ‘Musings and Insights’ Category


Nothing ever happens on track one. It is lovely to look at. I call it the saltine track because the wall is made up of blue tile and looks like the old Saltine Cracker boxes of my childhood.

Today, we all went to track two and waited patiently for the Utrecht Centraal train to pull in… until… that little blue notice popped up. I saw mass movement, and then read the thing… go to track one! Like I said, nothing happens on track one… until it happens. I went to track one where everyone, and a dog, waited for the train. That is how the trip began.

It didn’t get any better on the tram!!! The train for “Science Park” was on the wrong track. Fortunately, they had staff down there for confused travelers like me. Where are you going? UMC. Over there. Another switch-a-roo! At least this one was a quickie. Have I mentioned before that these trams fly? I’m constantly amazed at the tech that runs things, and I’m always thankful that it pulls into the station, letting me off with a short walk to the sky bridge. Once I board the train in Hilversum, it is all covered. On a day like today, when the cold has arrived, it is a gift. 

Traveling is something I’ve written about previously, and on the eve of what will be celebrated tomorrow as Thanksgiving in the US, I pause to give thoughtful thanks for the things that work smoothly, even when they might sprout a glitch or two. 

Gratitude has been a challenging lesson for me. I’ve had to learn to come to terms with a disability that has caused me pain, and taught me much. I’ve had to grapple with shyness, isolation, and compassion fatigue. The disability has challenged me to do things I thought I couldn’t do. I spent twenty-two years caring for my husband as we both witnessed the disintegration of his functionality. Yet, on this early evening, tears of gratitude come to me.

Today, a pause to give thanks to those who have loved me, given me support, taught me to go beyond where I am. Today I’m giving thanks for parents who cared, and did a good enough job parenting me.

Tomorrow my family will gather for the traditional picnic that we do at Lovers Point in Monterey, California. I will think of them eating whatever it is they decide to eat, especially the pumpkin pies that will be served up. I wish I could be there for that.

I pause to give thankfulness for the life I have. It isn’t perfect by any means, but it is mine, and I claim it.

As I sit in my warm home, and think about the fact that I have it, I’m content. I’m content to slow down some, work smart, and enjoy some of the simple pleasures to be had. 

I’m keeping this post short because short works, and I need to switch off for the day. Hug those you love, send gratitude out to the four corners of the world. Most of all, practice self-love, care for yourself, and send a smile to those you greet. Smiles make the switch-a-roo go well.


The Because Place

How does it feel to not be believed? Think about it for a minute. It’s infuriating and humiliating, and it can raise self-doubt. When another human being or institution denies someone’s reality, there is something wrong.

I had to go into the hospital yet again, and yet again deal with people who did not believe me about having bad veins. Once again, medical staff proceeded to make multiple attempts to start an IV. They left me bruised and looking like I was the victim of domestic abuse. I kept telling them to go in with an echo, find a vein, and all would go smoothly. Finally, they did just that. I should have been believed. As I write this, my right hand is still injured and there is pain when I touch it. It has been over a week.

The multiple attempts at IV placement caused me to feel so many emotions. The question I ask is this: Why don’t medical personnel learn to believe a patient’s reality? I wasn’t spinning a tale. I was telling them outright that there is a right and a wrong way to do this with my sorry veins.

Believing the Person

My clients are important to me, and believing their reality is also important. As a therapist, I honor the realities clients present. Sometimes the reality is skewed in some manner, and my job is to help the person see it clearly. I need to call it out. Sometimes I’m gentle, and at other times I’m blunt. What people fail to think about is that they are paying me to enable them to make life changes, and sometimes the change process requires me to point out some uncomfortable realities and have people sit with them. It isn’t easy sitting in the shadows.

Shadow work is the hardest work of all. It requires of us the ability to sit in uncertainty. We don’t know where we’re headed. Much like crossing Styx, we must journey to the new shore to discover what our soul’s treasure is deep within. This journey is voluntary, and it is one we make multiple times in our lives because shadows are a constant.

My hospital stay has put me in a place of looking at what I know about myself, and the truth of my physical state. Due to PXE, my veins have taken a powder. I might build them back up with walking, and it will take time. My treadmill is waiting for me. How do I deal with not being believed from the beginning? I now have a shot of what my hand looks like. You’ve seen it. I plan on showing it as evidence, and not consenting to an IV unless it is done without trauma and pain. There is a time when a person must say “ENOUGH!!!” I’ve reached that point in time.


What do you do when your reality isn’t validated? The gift of being heard is the greatest gift we can give to each other. To stand as a witness of another’s truth, and to validate another human, is a powerful happening in any life. It is the title of this blog, and I will forever be thankful to Jon’s psychiatrist for the validation he offered me.

I wish validation were the norm. I wish that children who disclosed abuse were always heard, believed, and protected. I wish women who suffer the daily insult of abuse in all of its forms were always heard, believed, and helped to find their way out of such relationships. I want for people who see the moon purple to not have to argue their reality—even if it is impossible. Somewhere in their words there is a truth that much be heard. I think of my five Anns, and how important it is to hold every person in high regard.

I believe that more often than we think, we fail to validate each other. People are left to sift through the experience on their own. It is hard work, and it is made more difficult when the lack of validation causes one to fantasize about ways of getting back at someone. I’ve found in sitting with my hospital experience that finding an evidence-based response is helpful. 

Here are some tips for how to get deeper into the self:

  • Play detective with yourself by asking questions.
  • Become a kid and keep asking why. “Why?” is a curious question. Sometimes the why question takes us “I don’t know.” This leads us to the BECAUSE place. “Because” leads us to realization due to the fact that it can be a place where we think we’ve hit a brick wall, and in facing that wall we push just a wee bit and dislodge one of the bricks. Once that happens, other things fall, and suddenly we have more information than we ever thought we’d have.
  • Sometimes sitting with the non-validating aspects of our lives moves us to new places. It isn’t that we didn’t need the validation. It is that the lack thereof requires us to rise in defense of ourselves and take constructive action. Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights actions are a great example of this. An entire race, blacks in the US, shouted in unison, “No more!” While this is a highly simplified explanation for one event during the Civil Rights Movement, deep reading and exploration of its planning will show its genesis to have been well thought out. Sitting with the question, and realizing its solution within ourselves, can cause an upheaval. Movement is good.
  • Sitting with it all is about being on the way to someplace else. We discover in our process of thought, and deeper reflection, that going deep inside is rewarding, and getting to the “because” of it all is a process of liberation.

It is true that some statements are easy, and others require time to sort out. Find a therapist if you need to.

The bruising from the multiple IV attempts hasn’t turned to the lighter colors yet, and there is still tenderness around each of them. I have the shot, and in a weird kind of way it is a multi-level touchstone. The thought process that spans out like a web began because of lack of validation, and it has carried me to new points on the horizon because I got a brick to leave the wall.

Wrong Species, Pooch.

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What a crazy week it was.

When this fails to plug into what you need, and you need to inquire about what is going on: Apple Inc., you are certainly not having the best interest of your customers in mind, and governments must now legislate what you must sell to us so that we’re not stuck paying double the cost for what we should be able to get at a lower rate. Oh, and while I’m on the subject, I don’t want unwanted business calls at any time. Yes!!!! If I need you, I’ll find you. And while it’s on my mind, would the world governments get it together and agree on one time for the entire world? Forward or back, just make up your mind.

Yes, I’m really on one of my rants today, as it’s been an awful, bad last week, and I’m not a happy camper.

So, do tell me why corporations can’t be honest with consumers, and why they think it is OK to rip us off when all we really want is a good bang for our buck, or euro, or whatever else we trade in. I just want one cable that connects to all my “i-Gadgets.” Is it so much to ask? I don’t like profiteering.

Dear Apple: Have you thought that maybe you’d be better off serving you clientele with fewer cables and easier connections for charging our devices? I own an iPhone, an iPad, and a desktop version. The desktop plugs into the wall; the other two need separate charging devices. Why? So you can make more money. I lost my gadgets while in the ER on Thursday; the staff tell me they can’t find them, and of course, now I must shell out for new plugs and cables. On top of this, my vision requires that I get assistance to do this. Good golly, Miss Molly!!!! I don’t like this at all.

So, I’ll most likely go to Apple and pay more than I need to pay for what I shouldn’t need to pay for. Oh, and did I mention that the website didn’t deliver, and that they told me I’d get it on Saturday? Nope, so there is also that. Yup, I’m on one rant, alright. I’m aggravated. Since mail doesn’t come here on Mondays, I can’t properly scream until late Tuesday. Nope, I’m not happy. If you want a snarky therapist, I’m your gal.

Then there are the unwanted business callers who interrupt me, telling me they aren’t salespeople. Salespeople: if I want you, I’ll look you up. I know that it’s worse in the US. If politicians wanted to do something useful, they’d do two things: outlaw robo calls and send anyone who makes such calls to a deep and dark dungeon with no connection to the outside world. This should include MLM types as well. If it isn’t on the shelves of a store or online where I can browse at my leisure, I don’t want it. Don’t call me, I’ll google you.

While I’m at it, some of us prefer to chat to a live human being who speaks to us in our native tongue. I cringe when I get transferred to a call center in a place that is running a script, and they are clueless about what I need. All so the corporate office can make a buck and pay a lower wage. Has anyone mentioned the evils of capitalism lately? I may be a US citizen, but I’d like to have things quiet down.

Does anyone else out there think I’m on to something here? 

Oh, and before I forget, there are the sites that think that if they bombard you with ads, you’ll pay for their useless service., get over yourself. I don’t want your service, and others who do can have it. Leave me be! Get over yourself, and that goes for the rest of you as well.   

Is anybody out there? Does anybody get this? Am I the only one? 

My friend just called; their dog is humping their mother. I needed a good laugh. Wrong species, pooch.

Slow-Cooked Relationships

I’m stating this up front: I’m going to write on the state of relationships. Really, I have to bring this up because I’ve started laughing about two statements that have changed with time.

Statement 1: “This relationship is no longer serving me well.”

In the past this would have been put into words such as this: “I don’t think we’re right for each other.”

Here are some other things the statement could be about: We all grow, and hopefully grow together. In saying that, I must also state that a couple’s growth is most likely at varying speeds, and in differing areas. When we merge, it is unifying, and then the growth and exploration cycle begins anew. There is no end to growth, as it is the stuff life is made of.

Growth in a relationship stops when both partners fail to hold space for the other to explore. When we fail to consider the needs of our partner and understand that they are on their own schedule, and so are we, we prevent progress and halt the growth process. When we stop wanting to expand our knowledge base, we might fall out of sync with the one we’re with.  

Jon and I shared a value of self-improvement. For us it was important to be in motion in this area. The relationship might not work if you are mismatched in this area.

Can people change? Yes. Can relationships end? Yes. My experience in seeing relationships end is that they got together for the wrong reasons in the first place. This also falls into the “We may not be right for each other” category.

While going through my own faith deconstruction, I witnessed couples who had married for the wrong reason: a church. As beliefs and values were explored, these couples awoke to the sad reality that, while they might be friends, the marriage they were in was all wrong because the reason for its existence was wrong. It wasn’t that they grew apart: they had never been together. They were a mismatched couple, and getting out changed it all.

I think there is a difference between a relationship not serving you well and a relationship that you’ve come to understand is based on differing values. Meeting each other’s needs, and communicating that to each other, is a major part of the relationship process. It is a dance of weaving in and out. It is a dance of joy and celebration, and it is difficult to make it happen correctly. Each dancer must do their part.

We enter relationships as individuals and slowly come to understand the needs of each other because we talk, learn, and ask questions. We come to understand how to meet each other’s needs. Assume nothing until you inquire of the person.

I believe that one of the things that has happened in the past two decades is that people have become complacent. We’ve forgotten that good things take time and there are no shortcuts. We’ve settled for fast or instant everything instead of savoring a slow-cooked soup that has simmered for hours. This fast pace has caused relationships to end rapidly. The “getting to know you process” is like the slow cooker that spreads its scent throughout the entire house. It creates anticipation and desire, as well as curiosity. Slow cooking a relationship is a wonderful thing!

Relationships, no matter what type they may be, should create healthy spaces for all, and when those spaces are not there, the reasons for the lack thereof need to be explored by everyone involved. This is why a healthy understanding of red-flag issues for ourselves, and for others, is an essential part of the relationship formation process.

The notion that opposites attract comes to mind here. Personally, I’ve never seen that to be the case in a deep and long-lasting relationship. Healthy relationships are built on common values and hold space for differing views. We can come to respect a person for challenging us in constructive ways. One of the things that I appreciated about Jon was that he would challenge my thinking, and it was the type of challenge that enabled me to clarify my own thoughts and values. I was confronted with my own need to do some deep exploration into my own thoughts and beliefs about my past faith tradition. We both did this, and it enriched our relationship.

I take all of my relationships seriously. I value them, and have chosen a small group of people that I take delight in rather than many who I can’t know well. I’ll admit that finding that things aren’t a match is usually a sad place to have to go to for me.

Statement 2: “We need to take our relationship to the next level.”

This one really makes me laugh and cry at the same time. What? What does this mean anyway? Are you playing a game? Does it mean that you are going exclusive, or that you want to move in together or marry? Twenty years ago you might have sat down and asked each other about how you felt about the other person.

I have a cousin who was dating five guys at the same time. She liked them all. The guys, on the other hand, wanted to spend more time with her. Back in the late ’70s, that meant “dropping” someone. And so, she got honest with herself, cut it to three guys, then two, and then one. Her ability to face the issue honestly created a lifelong relationship. Her ability to sort out what she wanted and needed in a vetting process enabled her to make a choice she was happy with.

It isn’t a game. Deepening our relationships is, as I’ve stated above, a process. It is two sided.

US relationship culture is different from European relationship culture. For some reason, maybe it was my father’s relative proximity to a German community that held those values for our family, even though we were in the US. My older siblings and I were fairly exclusive in our relationships from the beginning of each. Jon and I were exclusive from the beginning. We set some ground rules. We were also in our mid thirties when we met, and then married four years later.

Like my cousin, US culture tends to promote fun and loose connections at first. Putting yourself out on the “market” is a thing. Is it any wonder that people struggle with finding a match?

This brings me to my confession: I’m doing my work so that I can find someone new. I expect that I’ll go exclusive as I did before. For me, it’s about values. It’s about saying it straight. I do exclusive, one at a time. I’m not playing a game here because relationships are not a game.

Seasons (Revisit)

With Autumn here at last, my thoughts turn to this post, originally published in 2020. Enjoy!!!! 


The air was crisp and the trees were colorful. I was happy because my favorite season of the year was present. Autumn was present in every form including the warm colors of clothing that I loved so much.

For me autumn is what I like best about the year. The northern California Indian-summer days, and the crisp feel that you get when you are out and about, are wonderful. As a child, going back to school—which I didn’t like because I had to stop reading what I wanted—was only tolerable because it meant AUTUMN was in the air. For me the world was then, and is now, perfect in the autumn.

As you age, the seasons melt into the cycles of time. The playfulness of life and a budding spring and its excitement give way to the learning of summer. Oh, and summer is filled with exploration and the joys and perils of adventure: the challenges and joys of learning on your own, as you discover that the lessons of young childhood and early adulthood must become a basis for your fast-but-seemingly-slowly-approaching full onset of adulthood. There might be some true “yikes” moments during summer. Those “yikes” moments, when you catch yourself about to make a life decision that is better rethought, can be a good thing. “Yikes” means that you are aware of what is going on!!!!

Summer brings discovery of your real “self” emerging into view. Summer also brings a desire to have it all. You don’t want to see it end. You want to play hard and never see the sun go down. Summer brings a growth that you learn from trial and error. The lessons of spring and the early summer remain with you as you feel the time now fast approaching when autumn is on the way.

If you’ve had those yikes-type moments, and have taken the time to repair what needed fixing, you are in good shape now.

Autumn is the season of wisdom. Autumn is the time when the lessons of a young spring and summer are played out. Autumn is a time of realization, regrets, new focuses in life, and a time of hopes, as well as sorrows. Before autumn ends, and the onslaught of winter comes with its powerful resolution to destroy all that you hold dear, you must navigate through the autumn.

Autumn is, in a sense, “karma collection,” or payback. Realizing that I could have made better choices has only come because I made the not-so-good choices. I took risks in life. The thing about autumn is that you can’t turn back. And, you can’t avoid it, because everything we do in life has a price attached. You must adapt, accept, let the leaves of autumn fall, and move on.

Autumn still offers me time to change, to learn, and to grow. I love autumn! Raking up autumn’s leaves is important, and like it is for a child who jumps in the pile of leaves (you know, the one he or she is told NOT to jump in), it can be exhilarating. I like to inventory the leaves and really see what is there. I learn from this inventory and that is always good. I love the process of change, even though, at times, change is an unwanted aspect of life. Getting through the trials of change still brings me hope. I am better for it.

As I now reflect on my spring, and the innocence in which I lived it, I’m amazed I did as well as I did. I look at my life and realize that it has had its challenges. Challenge is what it’s about. I’m not always thankful for that which has kicked me from behind or punched me in the front. But, I can honestly say that I’ve knocked down the walls that have sprung up in my path. Tearful days and nights have made me stronger and wiser when it comes to life. It is the mistakes that make you think about the new stuff in a self-confrontational manner.

If my spring was innocent, my summer was an adventure in learning. By being able to make both good and bad choices, and dealing with the consequences of those choices, I grew. Summer is a time when the life bank account is in “deposit mode,” and what you put in will, in the future, be withdrawn. You will have to pay for your summer. Some payments will work well, and others will hurt like having a tooth pulled without the Novocain. Life is like that, and you can’t turn from it. Sooner or later, the crisp days of autumn roll around and you enter that time when all accounts begin to go into “withdrawal mode.”

I am amazed when I hear someone say that they really haven’t had any challenging stuff happen in life. I wonder to myself what they haven’t been doing. The fact is, life is a series of challenges. Making mistakes is a good thing because it can mean that you are engaged in the life process. Learning from your mistakes means that you are progressing and committed to doing better as you move through life. Autumn is that time of the year when one can reflect.

I’ve come to the serious conclusion that few are blessed with all the wisdom they need to make life decisions at 20 or even 25 years old, and yet that is what is demanded of the young. I hear of more and more adults in their 40s or 50s who embrace the unknown of what they really want to do. They are happier for it. Autumn is a time to rethink, to take a risk, and to change the course of life. “If only I knew” becomes “Why not?”

Autumn is when you realize that it isn’t “too late” or “hopeless.” Grab the brass ring and do it!!!

Healing from the springs and summers of life makes everything more valuable. Reflection during our autumns causes us to sober up, to appreciate our youth for what it was, and to anticipate the future for what we can create as vibrant adults. Whether we’ve done it well enough in the past, or are choosing to do it well at this point in life, autumn is that time of life.

I’ve learned via observation that those who seem more at peace during their winters are those who have challenged themselves during their autumns. They are actively enjoying the lives they’ve built, and face with dignity the storms that life will still produce. I will always cherish what each autumn brings to me.

As I look out my window and notice the sun’s changing position, and feel the lowering temperature, I know that once again my favorite season is approaching. Autumn, with its crisp days and warmer colors, is just around the corner. I can’t wait.

I Suppose

Before me is a blank document. What do I put on the page? This time of year used to be gentle; it has become hard. What were once simple lazy days with blue skies have become days of reflection and wondering. I tend to review, explore and wonder where I am now compared to the last year. I suppose that surviving a suicide of a husband will do that to you. I realize that his suicide freed him from a very painful life, and it presented me with a rare gift.

I am not shocked or upset by this thought. He gave me the ability to move forward myself. I was given the time and freedom to explore our relationship in ways I couldn’t do when he was alive. I was an innocent when we got together.

Before I met Jon, I didn’t understand that you could doubt or question someone’s love. Yes, I got that there was love that is dysfunctional: manipulation masking as love, and love that I had not seen. In my life, and in my mind, love was gentle. My relationship with Jon educated me in new ways. 

Relationships teach us the good, bad, and questionable things about ourselves. Living under the same roof brings with it challenges and a need for commitment to the process of growth. If there is one thing that enabled our relationship to last, it was a commitment to growth and exploring the hard things together.

Sometimes we couldn’t resolve an issue in a day, and that was OK. Being in hard places is good for growth and exploration. I learned to become more adept at remaining open to the long-term solution. There are things that only time and deep insight can resolve, and the commitment to do the work “until” is essential to making it work.

The best counsel I got from his psychiatrist was to give him space. OK, I needed to give myself space too. Walking away enabled us to resolve issues faster. I’m thankful for this knowledge, and the gift that it is.

There were times when I wondered if he could love me. The bipolar cut into him in ways that he couldn’t even express. His upbringing cut into his soul in other ways. My heart ached for the both of us at times. After his death, the love question surfaced, and I knew I’d have to face it.

There is a time in the grief process when it all gets put on the chopping block. It all has to go on the block. It is the deep work of grief and the exploration of the shadows that we hide from. If we’re willing to do the hard work of grief, we must extract the ugly, unpleasant stuff and dive in. This is where many stop their work. It is ugly and messy, and do “I” really want to face this truth? My innocence committed me to explore this place of shadows. Sometimes innocence is a great motivator.

Some couples do this hard exploration while they are together in life, and some widows or widowers are forced to do this difficult exploration after the death, and before moving into a new relationship. I had to cross into this place after, and I’m glad I did. My willingness to do the work didn’t make it any easier. I’ve always invested in self-improvement and growth.

What bipolar takes from relationships is debatable and unique to each person. It took my innocence. In saying that, I’ve had to admit that while I love Jon, he opened my eyes to a very dark side of the world. I would not have chosen to go into the dark abyss of a hell few can explain, and fewer still can understand, and yet I went, and I find that I don’t regret the journey to this place. It is a gift I wasn’t looking for, and I’m richer for having taken the time to open this gift.

The gift of knowing you are loved comes in many forms. In the first few years after his death, my reflections led me to explore the “he didn’t love me” side of things. Sitting with the doubt, the hurt of things done, and understanding who he was deep within, moved me to the place of love. I came to a realization that through all of it he tried his best, and so did I. There was love in the tiny things he tried to do. There was love in the sneaky things he pulled off; there was love in the gifts he thoughtfully gave, and in a mixed-up way, even in the way he ended his life. In that velvet way, I didn’t even notice the change I’d made in my thinking. Wow!

When I think about what it means to show love in deep ways, he did his best to do that. I accept what he wasn’t capable of doing. I can also view my side of things with more realism. I can take responsibility for the failures and the successes of my part of the relationship, and some of it hurts.

I suppose this journey is about being able to find the deep peace that I’ve needed to put things to rest. Coming to this knowing also brings up the fact that nothing is ever at an end point. Only the final eye closure can and will bring things to an end.

I find that I’m standing taller; I’m wiser, and at the same time I question more.

As I pass into this new place where the gifts are for opening and exploring, I turn, look back, and realize that the lazy summers of exploration have gifted me some cloud-filled summer days. I suppose that’s just fine.

Chasing the Fly

I’ve been wondering why there is a rise in stress and anxiety among younger adults. At first, I thought it was because they didn’t learn to play and create as my generation had done. That is one part of the problem. Then I noticed the influence of marketing on these kids. Maybe, and maybe not. As I dug deeper, there was a realization that in competition everyone had to get a trophy, and be special. The topper was the safety issue. When we can’t hear opposing views, something is terribly wrong. Yes, this is going to be a wild post. 

The last few weeks, parents have been posting on Facebook about their kid graduating from kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN!!!!! Get real, people. When, and how, did this become a thing? Personally, I think it’s a retail scam, kind of like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Let’s promote buying something, and don’t forget “Black Friday,” which has now left the U.S. and is doing a migration to Europe. But I digress. Back to what is going on here: adults with anxiety, teens, tweens, and kids with anxiety and depression. Oh, I won’t go down that rabbit hole. 

My thoughts wandered to a question that couldn’t stay buried in the rubble of the mind: Have people become so set on getting ahead and providing all good things that all good things are becoming lost on the way to the getting of them? (I need Bill Bryson to do the research on this and put it in a book so that I can synthesize it and digest how we got to this topsy-turvy place on this hot rock of ours.)

Then my editor told me about Jonathan Haidt. His research is brilliant. I spent the weekend devouring two of his books. They provided some grounded answers along with some thought-provoking questions. 

I think of parents over-scheduling children and not allowing time for relaxation, creativity, and free play. Sorry, people, “play dates” are not free play. There you have it!!!! Play dates!!!! OK, so I’m from a different generation when kids did really crazy things, like when we went to our friends’ homes on the spur of the moment because we could walk or ride our bikes there. When my mother called my friend’s mother, telling her that my friend’s brother had fallen out of the tree at my home, her mother yelled at us to “stay in the house, don’t go outside until I get back!!!!” Yes, George had a broken arm; Jenny and I remained at her place, and our mothers remained calm but concerned. We understood that play had its risks, and falling out of a tree or falling off a bike were some of the risks we took. About a year later, I was the injured person. While at a friend’s home, I broke my collar bone. Life happens. We didn’t stop doing creative things. We explored and discovered things about life. When riding down a steep slope, you must slow the bike and not fly over the handlebars. I rode the bike to my friend’s home, where her mother took a look at things. Yup, I needed a doctor for this one. It hurt. I was OK, and I’d be out of play for a bit.   

This brings me to the thought that we’re sending the wrong message to children now. Life isn’t safe. There should be healthy conflict and exploration in our upbringing. We should be teaching children to explore new things and new places. They need to discuss all sides of an argument and search out opposing points of view. Are we learning to think? Are our children and grandchildren learning to think? 

In 1999 my husband and I accepted a job assignment in Germany. We risked and stayed here in Europe. I didn’t know what I’d be facing as a disabled person here in Europe. What I found was a freedom I’d never had before. In 2016 I made the choice to remain here as a widow. It’s been a challenge, and I’m glad I’ve done it. It was a risk that has been stressful at times but worth the life balance I have because I chose to remain here. My childhood of roaming free, playing freely, and learning from it all provided some useful building blocks. 

During the last thirty years, some of those freedoms have come and gone for many children. In 2018, Utah, followed by Oklahoma and Texas, passed “free range” laws that restore the rights of parents and children to be on their own, just as I was when I was younger. It will be interesting to follow children in these states as they mature. Will these kids display lower levels of anxiety and depression? Will they be capable of riding a bus on their own? Will they know more of their neighborhoods? Will these laws get kids outdoors? Will they exercise more, and will obesity in children decline?  

Will children begin to have less homework and more free time to create?  

When I think about why I began to write this over a week ago, I realize that I want children to experience the fun and delight to be had in life. Remember the Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You’ll Go? If children can go to wonderful places, will things become better for them? Will depression and anxiety levels lower both in schools and homes? This would be great for children, and yes—bad for all the pill pushers hoping to get parents thinking that their kids need drugs when they may not need them. Before you scream, I’m pro wise use of medication if it’s needed. To quote one of my favorite books from childhood, and a book that takes the reader on an adventure with a boy and a fly: 

“I sat at the lake. 

I looked at the sky, 

And as I looked,

A fly went by.” 

(From Mike McClintock’s A Fly Went By.)

My hope and wish is that children will once again have life adventures where they will learn, explore, question, and connect with life in real ways. Let them sit by the lake and chase a fly.

One Wish, Please

We watch as suffering comes over the world. A mother cries for her lost child. A father mourns the death of his son, who was sent off to fight a war that should have never been. A parent mourns the loss of the son or daughter they believed they had in order to discover the new trans child they will get to love. A child endures bullying at home, while another child becomes the bully at school. Somewhere in a police station, a human being’s rights are violated. Marchers descend on a capitol in hopes of bringing a message of solidarity with those on the margins. A young boy witnesses the death of his friend on the streets of the inner city. We become one of six. There is trauma in all of this. 

It seems that the cycle never ends, despite the cries of the injured and the questioning of parents, and others who care about the victims of what can’t be stopped. If only the emotional pain would end. Life doesn’t offer that. We protest the needless suffering, bigotry, senseless acts of violence, and raise the question of where and how it all began. Ultimately it begins in the home. 

If I could wish one thing for the world we inhabit, it would be to have functional homes, where each human being is loved, honored, respected, and has a recognized voice. A home where each child is raised to enter the world as a functional adult who is ready to take their place in society and contribute to making the world a better place. What a wish! I’m not wishing for utopia. I’m wishing for something better: a healthy peace for all. It starts in homes. Oh, I want to see this happen! 

A home with a loving parent(s) who offers up a platter of love, protection, and acceptance to a child so that they can become who they were born to be. I salute the courageous! I honor those who try to learn and understand what might be different to them. I honor the parent who says “I don’t understand, and I’m committed to learning” when their LGBTQ2s child comes to them with fear of the consequences of coming out: first to themselves, and then to others. 

I applaud the enabled person who struggles to meet daily challenges in an abled world. The parent who shepherds the child in the hard times as well as the good times. Homes need to be safe havens for all of us. 

I’m not building to a kumbaya moment here—that takes a great deal of work. I’m building to something else: peace. The peace-filled home that spills over into the neighborhood, then the city, and spreads out to all corners of all nations: it begins within our homes. 

Saying it is one thing, and implementing it is quite another process. My husband’s psychiatrist once made the point that all voices in a family need to be heard, acknowledged, and respected. Parenting isn’t about giving orders; it’s about guiding, setting boundaries, and being willing to have hard conversations with growing children of all ages. Parents create a micro-community in their homes when they commit to bring tiny humans to dwell with them. 

It’s about accepting your child for who they are, and where they are, offering a safe space to explore their identity, speak their point of view, and explore their own values.  Eventually, children need to make their way out of the home and into the world. Happy, healthy adults have experienced many of these things. 

Mentoring begins from birth. Mentoring is about parents doing things with kids, making it fun, teaching them the value of working for something, and waiting for results. It’s about offering children healthy choices so that as they grow, they develop empathy, social skills, insight, and inner strength. 

Boomers were raised by parents who dealt with the Depression and WWII. Their children faced the 60s and 70s and began to question the culture of parents and grandparents who came out of a more authoritarian view. And then, things started moving faster. I believe that with Gen X and beyond, we’ve never quite caught up. Time has sped up, society has changed radically, and with it, the home has been rocked on its foundation. There is a real need to re-examine relationships and to have hard conversations about what works and doesn’t work. 

One of the consequences of this radical shift is that parents say “yes” when they need to say “no.” Yes and no have to do with setting a healthy boundary. It is about helping a developing child understand long-term choices and offering the mentoring to enable them to think it through for themselves. Now more than ever, children need the skill of thinking it out for themselves! The thinking starts when parents offer up limits such as a healthy diet that incorporates varied food choices, or reading to children daily and offering up experiences that teach the young child to choose good and age-appropriate things. It’s a confidence builder. It continues as the child matures and is able to make task-appropriate choices that will enable them to learn and grow. When a child experiences failure, with a parent encouraging them to give it another go around, they will! I also understand that some parents are faced with needing the village to step in while they work three jobs. Who we put in our villages can enable parents to have that needed assistance to raise the child to healthy adulthood. Successful single parents and two-parent families have a village to back them up. 

I acknowledge that I’m speaking from a point of privilege. I grew up within a home where there were two parents, and they were able to provide the basics but not the luxuries. Money was tight and there was a village of extended family and community.    

With the way things have sped up, it is essential to cultivate relationships that include extended family, friends, community members, schools, and charitable organizations. A parent may not know their village until a crisis happens. 

My wish includes people sharing a meal and coming together to learn from one another: people who discover that in diversity, there are both differences and sameness. The sameness begins with recognizing that we are all humans residing on this pale blue dot. The diversity offers up the gift of human understanding, culture, and a differing world view that teaches us to learn, listen, and understand. In table fellowship, we offer up the gift of being heard. It is listening that bridges gaps, strengthens the person, enters the home, and moves forward to influence the neighborhood, the community, and eventually the world. 


Death can numb us physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Most people don’t die without it affecting others with some level of trauma. Think about it. Even the person who dies in their sleep can have a partner wake up with a dead body beside them. There is trauma in this. 

While birth can be a joy-filled time, death isn’t. Sure, we might be thankful that they are out of pain, no longer suffering in other ways, or “at peace.” Death leaves the living with the reality of feeling and doing what we need to do to get through it and move forward. We can behave poorly after a death. Remember, we’re in no condition to think straight. Whether we realize it or not, we’re in the twilight zone. We’re not ourselves. We’re in the death bubble. Sooner or later, we’ll need to exit that bubble and get back on the conveyor belt of life.

Getting through the process is about reconfiguring our new lives to work without the loved one, or not-so-loved-one, in our lives. We’ll miss the former and think we can get on just fine without the latter—until something doesn’t go quite right. Then we’re facing the whatever it is and making it right. 

Anything can happen. Parents don’t think kids are grieving correctly; kids feel or think a parent should get over it; grandkids miss the grandparent who the parent is celebrating the death of, and they are numb to themselves and each other. 

All of a sudden, rifts develop; people once invited are uninvited, and people fight over petty things. What was not resolved in life becomes a nightmare for those who remain. There is more numbing, and it seems that we no longer notice the real pain. By now it might be all about anger, loss, and a grief we can’t speak of because those we thought would be there to hear our pain ran out on us to escape into their own pain. It’s a cycle, and it only resolves itself when someone says to themselves or others, “ENOUGH!!!!” 

If we’re lucky to have someone with the insight to call out the crazy, we might just get to a new place with it. That person may be you. You may be the only fix that there is. The reality of it all is that we can only fix ourselves. The great personal thaw means that you engage with yourself in the healing process. This can be the greatest challenge of all: to heal when no one else gets the repair work you are doing. 

In the seven years I’ve been dealing with my own grief and loss, and the pain of others, I’ve seen and heard some really painful stuff. I’ve asked myself why people move on too quickly and don’t do the work that would lead them to true peace, and then I think about the crazy of it all. 

Is it possible to have burnout from grief? Can someone burn out from too much pain? I think they can. I recall a health course I took in the fall semester of my second year of university work. I was sitting next to two guys as we all filled in the stress scale the professor had distributed. In the period of one year, I’d gone through two significant family deaths, made a major life change, and had checked a few other boxes. I looked at them; they looked at me, and all three of us realized that our scores were much too high to be normal. It was the nonverbal, silent signal of knowing. I wasn’t in my right mind. What was I doing there? At the end of that year, I moved home, found a therapist, and began to sort out my head. Looking back on all of it now, I realize that I’d had enough physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I was so deep into grief that I didn’t know how deep I was into grief. I came out of it, and now understand the crazy. 

I believe that one of the things that saves us from yelling at others to get over it is that when we do the work of getting through it, we’re gifted with the understanding of the hard work that must be done. We’re able to hold compassion for the crazy place grief, loss, trauma, and burnout can carry us into. 

The work begins with a desire to pop the bubble of denial, and to seek for better ways of facing our pain. 

For some people, death is death: it is what happens at the end of life. It is what it is. For another group of people, death opens up a need to make sense of the existential mystery of why it might have happened. For yet a third group of people, they engage the theodicy mind trap. I’m sure there are other possibilities. It is to theodicy that I’ll turn my focus. 

Is it any wonder people turn from God when God gets abused? The use of theodicy— a way of explaining why God allows evil to happen—to explain loss, pain, and stuff that happens for unexplainable reasons can drive a soul mad. I understand that there are people who abuse, and even purposely damage, their own children. It is wrong, and I hope that such abusers are discovered and dealt with, and that their children are given a chance to live better lives. Children don’t sign up for mistreatment. Theodicy is a form of mistreatment, and is spiritually disrespectful to all human beings. Higher powers do not create death to teach someone a lesson, take someone because they are needed someplace else, expect us to bypass the grief process and focus on an afterlife, or cause intentional suffering (for instance, the birth of a disabled child). 

Tragic things happen, and we must face them honestly. Nature does strange things to bodies, and we must accept nature doing its thing. The human gene is a tricky thing, and we can be brought up short by the screwy things our genes do. Early in life I had to learn that nature behaves in unruly ways. It just is. That being said, I’ll return to the stuff that can be controlled. 

I can, and need, to control my own behavior. I can decide to behave kindly towards others in pain. As difficult as it is during the process of grief, loss, painful experiences, and whatever else I experience, I can choose to apologize, show compassion, and make amends as needed. In the end it takes less energy to show kindness to myself and others. It also keeps my brain well balanced. I’ll cry, scream, get angry, look in the mirror, face down the monsters, and make peace with it all. In the long run, that will serve me well.

This has been a nice semi-rant. I hope you learned from it.

Thanks, but Not This Gift (Revisit)

Lately I’ve been musing about life, the self, and self-acceptance. This post is a good reminder that taking back choices and life situations doesn’t work. Once we’ve done it, we’ve opened up a new pathway. Jon gave me a great gift with this realization.

Gail, January 16, 2023

Late Wednesday I asked Jon: “If you could give me a gift, any gift, what would it be?” I wasn’t ready for the reply.

He told me he’d give me a healthy body. He told me he would want to take away all my discomfort and give me health, and I was stunned silent. Two days later and I’m still stunned.

I’ve had this petite, not-quite-a-gem of a body for 56 years now, and while I don’t appreciate its lack of functionality at times, I still love being petite. It is who I am. I love my blue eyes and my once-curly hair. I don’t like the PXE (Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum) that has made life hard. No, I don’t like that at all.

I’ve made the comment before that if I could see normally, I’d want to play tennis. That would be first on my list of items to do. That is just a thought and a desire, but when I think of things in terms of my entire life changing, I have cause to rethink. Doesn’t everyone want health?

About two weeks ago, my family found out my younger brother might be facing some serious heart surgery. He, like me this past year, had to come to terms with his own mortality. It changes you and causes you to rethink who you are and what you do with your life. Things that didn’t seem needful take on a new view. In this past year, the things that really matter to me have changed.

As much as I would like health, I’m going to decline the gift. It isn’t that I’m not moved by the thought; it is that it would change some things. It makes me think of one of the most powerful “Generation” episodes of Star Trek, and the lesson that it teaches.

In the episode, Jean-Luc has yet another encounter with Q. He comes to understand that the lives we live are due to the choices we make. We walk the paths we walk because of what we either do, or fail to do. I may not like the hassles that my lack of a healthy, functioning body brings to my life, but without it I lack the knowledge and power that its lessons have taught me.

Instead of pontificating on all the lessons I’ve learned (and I could do just that ), I’d like to ask you each some questions: Would you change your life? Would you alter it so radically that the lessons you have learned now would change? Who would you be if you weren’t this current “you?” How does thinking about this alternative “you” change who you are going forward? Why would you make the changes? What would your reasoning be?

The offer of Jon’s gift has made me look at myself and accept that I’m OK with the mess of my disability. I’m more accepting of it than I thought I was. I like me. I may not always be happy with life, but I like my life lessons and am glad I’ve had them to shape who I am.

I will return to the gift of health. It is a good thing to ponder and revisit because it has made me think about my life in new and better ways.

In asking myself the question, I found another gift. This gift is that I like being Gail. I like some things about being who I am with my own disabilities that I didn’t think I was happy with. Thanks, Jon.

If it’s January, it Must Be Resolution Time

It is January first, and I’m getting a jump on my Monday. I’m doing it because my January third is going to be slightly cluttered with an eye appointment. Here it goes!

I was logged into Facebook to check on pages I manage and spotted people I know posting their New Year’s resolutions. It got me thinking about change, and why this stuff seldom works the way people envision resolutions working.

The first thing is, why wait for the new year? If it really needs to be done, do it now—don’t put the thing off. 

My next observation—or question—would be, Why do diets begin on Mondays? Shouldn’t they start in the mind, on the next shopping trip, or in an online order?  

My third musing would be that people make resolutions but seldom lay the groundwork to establish successful life change. How do we each lay that groundwork? What does it take to do the work that will establish change in our lives?

It begins in stages: the first stage is to come to an understanding of what the real issue is. I’ll use a diet for the example, though most any example could work. I’ll use my own diet journey.

Often a person wakes up to their personal reality, sees themselves in the mirror, and shudders at the sight that is reflected back to them. The realization of the pounds that are now present isn’t a happy one. You might have a range of clothing sizes, and some of those sizes might never be worn again. You hold on to all of the sizes in hope that “someday” you will fit into those jeans you wore fifteen years ago. I didn’t have that issue because moving to Europe is all about weight, and getting it on the boat. I had to give clothes I was wearing, and not wearing, to someone who could use them right then. I’m glad that the choice was made for me.

In 2006 I realized that I felt awful, and I didn’t like my reflection in the mirror. I felt ugly, frumpy, and unattractive. We purchased a treadmill so that I could walk inside, and I hoped that walking would help me take the weight off. Four years later my “goal” had not been achieved, and I was miserable. In 2011, after years of back pain that began in adolescence, I made the decision to have a breast reduction. That was a good choice on my part. Talking to my husband about the decision I was making was a process. He had the concern of things not turning out right. They did. The reduction enabled me to walk easily, and to feel better while doing chores. The “bench,” as I thought of it, was gone. Wow, was that a game changer! I also began to win at taking the weight off. Having a couple of kilos gone in one day gave me hope! Maybe I could do this thing.

All the tears I cried, the times when Jon had to hear me grapple with the issue that it was taking so long to drop the weight, now seem like an eternity of days gone by. That was one kind of looking and digging to get to the root cause of my food issues.

There is something to be said for feeling good, and feeling like you are winning at something you want. After a decade, I was wearing smaller sizes; I was winning the battle, or so I thought. I was doing the outer work. What about the inner work? 

My health insurance covered a dietitian, and she was helpful. It took a conversation about doctors being vigilant about the Body Mass Index (BMI) to turn the entire weight loss process around for me. Wowzah, had I fallen into a nasty trap!

I thought I’d done all the inner work as I began to understand that in my genetic heritage of deities, a love of sweets from two grandfathers and my mother had caused me to deal with sugar like alcoholics deal with a drink: one is never enough. This sent me spiraling into a new level of self-discovery. It was unbearably painful. I engaged in a dance, and while the weight was coming off, my eating and I were doing a wild rumba. All the years that I’d focused on BMI had held me back from focusing on feeling good. I had to contemplate how I might have bought into the diet myth, and the body image of fitting back into a size 6–8. Intellectually, I understood that there were things I needed to do. In 2021 I crossed into a new zone: the I’m-happy-with-who-I-am-and-what-I-see-in-the-mirror zone. It was a massively delightful discovery. It also lifted a huge burden of non-reality off of me. Now it was about management.

I recall the day clearly. I was sitting on a stool, getting dressed and taking a look at myself. No, my stomach wasn’t model flat. I would never have that EVER again. My arms were OK, not perfect but good enough, and my calves, they were still wonderful. Throughout my life my calves were the one body part that always looked great. I took time to reflect on this wonderful factoid. My thighs really were OK, and my face had thinned out. I realized in that moment I would never see a size 6 or 8 again. 

Then I began to think about how I really felt inside. I felt good, and as I realized this fact, I began to look deeper. Why was I stuck in the weight loss mode? I came to understand that I didn’t need to go there. A size 10–12 was perfectly fine. At my age it also felt like I could maintain that size.

Healthy isn’t about the perfect body. Ultimately it is about feeling good at where we are. It becomes a process of cutting ourselves some slack, offering ourselves the same grace and generosity we tell others to treat themselves with. In all the inner work I spent time doing over the years, I realized that I, too, had cut myself some slack and offered up a huge healthy serving of grace and generosity to myself. In 2022 I sat on the stool, looked at myself, and smiled. Yeah, I’m good with her!  

Resolutions are fulfilled when we lay a foundation of inner work, dig deep, and discover the generous helping of self-love we are serving ourselves. We make peace with the demon within. We grant ourselves the insight that the real work takes time and is about honoring ourselves over what we think we want. The question we must ask at the beginning of any goal or resolution journey is, What do I really need, and why?

It took me from 2006, a lot of treadmill and conversation time working with a professional, and a real hard look in the mirror to come to understand that what I wanted (getting back to a 6–8 size) was not what I needed. What I needed to do was to like—and love—the reflection of the 10–12 sized woman who sat on the stool. It doesn’t matter the size or the kilos/pounds that I carried. I started this journey thinking size and BMI. What matters most is that I got healthy. What matters most is that I’m enjoying where I am and can manage life where I’m at without my body doing the yo-yo cycle.

2023 is starting off with some real peace of mind. I’m good with this.

Sneakiness is Happiness (Revisit)

During the holiday season, our minds turn to fun and wonderful giving. This gift came to me on a warm day, not during Thanksgiving or Christmas—just because he could pull it off. Go out and be sneaky.

Originally posted on December 20, 2019.

Today has been very hot. I like the heat because it means that the sun is out and the sky is blue. The only bad thing about the heat is that sticky, humid feeling. Today I had to be out in the heat and it was wonderful!!!!

Why? Well, it was because of all the nice things that happened while I was out and about and doing the many things that I had to get done. I was out alone with Myrtle Mae. Myrtle Mae is a good sidekick. “She” keeps me safe from others. I’ve also noticed that people are really nice to me when I’m buzzing around with my stick. (Myrtle Mae is featured in stick magic.)

There are so many things that are different about being a person with low vision. Some things are just more complicated and time consuming than they are for a fully sighted soul. People being nice to me made me feel OK about walking around in the heat. So to balance my happiness, I find myself listening to one of the most pessimistic guys of rock: Don Henley. I like Don.

There were things to do, like the veggie run and the bank. I like getting this stuff done—but there was also laundry to do before I could do the veggie run.

I tell you all of this because the man did something wonderful for me. He can be sneaky in phases because my sight just isn’t good enough to see what is going on in my tiny room that I use as an office. I didn’t see the first phase at all.

My office is filled with very “Gail”-type things, two of which are parasols that are mounted into the corners of the ceiling. Once they were up I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool to backlight them? I haven’t thought about it for some time. He has.

While I was out and about, he got to work and gave me a very beautiful surprise to come home to. Yup, he backlit my parasols!!! So, even though it is hot out there and in here, I’ve got the tiny lights on. I couldn’t resist as it is so pretty to have the soft light around me.

Being nice pays off not because it has to—it just does. There is something about generosity that is contagious. So, when I’m out and about, I smile, and others say hello to me. Why?

I think that is because we, as humans, crave positivity in ways that will never be fully understood. I, for one, have no desire to study this, as it takes some of the magic out of the process. I will studiously avoid the research on the topic. Some things are better enjoyed and left alone.

I think I’ll go find someplace cool to enjoy the evening. I also must switch to something other than Don Henley. Before I do—remember to smile and see what you get in return.

Good Enough

This past week, I spent a great deal of time in preparation for a Sunday church service. The topic was the poverty trap. I’ve seen it, talked to people trapped in the cycle, and I’ve lived in a third-world nation and seen and smelled poverty in a way that has left a lasting imprint on my mind. I was using a video that talks about the poverty trap. I spent time viewing it multiple times to make sure I understood what was being said. Each time, my takeaway was added on from the previous view. When we gathered, I felt like I’d not done a very good job of things. Not enough, and things had gone off the rails. Had they gone off the rails or was it my thinking?

I’m using this as an example of how we, as humans, tend to pass judgement on ourselves and others. We all do it to some extent, and to say that we’re immune to it isn’t truthful. The fact is that most of us can name a long list of the negatives, and it isn’t balanced with the positives about ourselves. Good grief, why do we do this? 

The answer is complex, and I’ll try to expand on one or two of the areas. 

Social media and the ads we are confronted with affect us daily. We view advertisements that attempt to sell us, tell us, and convince us that without the latest gadget, or the vacation, or the right clothes, we can’t, or won’t, be enough. I’ll give you an example using someone’s weight experience. 

I’ll call her Amanda. Amanda has done the yo-yo diet thing; she’s listened to the docs who tell her that she needs to be within the proper weight for the Body Mass Index (BMI) to be healthy. She also did the research and took a close look at her body. She has dense bone structure, is petite, and no matter how much she wants to be slender, she’ll never look like women of Western-European descent. She’ll look the way she is meant to look: healthy and beautiful as she is. She isn’t an overeater; her body processes things as it should. Has it been hard on her? Yes. Making peace with who we are physically is about having a chat with the person in the mirror, asking ourselves how we feel inside, and understanding what good health is about. It is understanding our bodies and knowing when to check out of the advertisement myth. How honest are we being with ourselves? Ultimately, it is about personal responsibility and doing the hard work on the inner self: the shadow work. It is this hard work that creates space for each of us to be good enough. It is saying goodbye to the myth of perfection. Amanda has done this essential work on her body. 

I mentioned doing the inner work, or shadow work, on ourselves. I used to read this and not quite get the depth of what was being said. In my youth, I didn’t understand what inner work or shadow work is were about. If it’s about doing therapy, then yes, I’ve done that. It isn’t just therapy! I didn’t know that then. True, we can explore our issues and do some changing. The deeper work is stuff that causes us to look at ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. 

When I was younger, therapy was enough. I needed to address the issues of youth. I found therapists who were good at that; it worked. As we mature, things change on all levels. Eventually, we’re face-to-face with the ghosts we failed to confront in our younger days. The shadows we see in the mirror cause us to rethink and ask ourselves different questions. Our life experiences are showing us that it is time to move forward. We look in the mirror and begin to think: “Is this it?” or something like that. Now we’re looking for a different type of therapist, or a spiritual director. We want the person who will call us out on our stuff in ways that matter. We might discover the Enneagram, or another spiritual growth tool. The drive to change within becomes new, and we begin to put away keeping up with the Jones’s. We find that keeping up with the Jones’s is costly in time and energy, and not worth the effort. We find that the need to confront ourselves is real, and that the other things are not as real. 

Marriages dissolve, faith changes, careers change; we get sober for ourselves. What once was happy and joy filled is sour. We want honesty from the person in the mirror. This is when the deep changes happen: we’ve hit rock bottom in our lives. This isn’t a rock bottom in the addiction way. It is a life rock bottom, and it demands to be addressed so that we can move forward.

We go to battle with ourselves, and in doing this new kind of work, we find books on spirituality, meaning, and we ask questions that we’d never have asked ourselves five years before now.  

We begin to overturn the rocks of our soul, and we become disenchanted with anything less than answers that lead to real discovery and honesty. We begin to learn to sit with the uncertainly of life. We cry the ugly tears that teach us our inner truth. We speak the words of our real truth and mourn the loss of what isn’t, in exchange for a face without makeup. We stand stronger for all of it. Then we get down to the real business of life. 

In this process, we learn to overturn some boulders on our own, or with help. The shadows that were once enemies to our souls become our friends; we look back, and realize that in our youth, we knew something, and now we know more. We do better. In our understanding, we burn the myth of perfection to the ground and embrace being good enough, and in this we move towards wholeness. 

By now the things of youth are gone: the magazines, the desires, the noise, and the clutter of an earlier life. We’ve traded all of this in for retreats, quiet nights, smaller gatherings, a group of close friends, holidays with meaning, and an understanding that whatever happens, happens. We are no longer slender; we’ve filled out and have dense bones built on strength. 

In our budding new self, we may come across our old self in the faces of younger souls. They look at us and may see wisdom built on experience. When they struggle, displaying the behaviors of the perfection myth, we can embrace them and allow for them to be themselves: good enough.

Hearing it, Seeing it

Last night I learned a valuable lesson about hearing someone, doing the listening that needed to happen, and being awakened to what I was seeing with my ears. Confused? I understand that this would sound quite confusing. I also know that how we hear, see, and understand complex situations is not simple. Life isn’t simple.

Most of the time in conversations, people listen while planning what they’ll say next. That is not listening or hearing: it is pretending to listen and to hear. The idea that a great conversation should click along, be fast paced, or flow smoothly is only accurate if you want a bad conversation where you are not heard. So, nix on that sort of conversation.

Learning to listen is an art, unless you are Guinan, the listener, on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then it is supposed to be genetic. Listening is an art, and sitting with someone, and their story, is a gift. The gift is being fully heard, and the art is in shutting up and offering the gift. Those conversations take longer and have a great many bumps in them.

What happened last night? I had gone into a conversation with a friend, who was doing something that I didn’t agree with. I was fully prepared to say that, and more. I began to do just that and then, hearing with my eyes, looking with my ears, I noticed my friend’s pain emerge. I’d never seen it that way before. It emerged in the words, the anger, the deep hurt, and the loss of what should have been in the past—but wasn’t—and what was being created in the present. I understood my friend’s actions in a new way. I had to chastise myself for my previous thoughts. I went to bed last night understanding that I was the one with the issue. Wow, how could I have been so dense?

The answer to the above question is that most of us operate on dense! We only switch to healthy operational listening when we really blow it or get called out on our failure to hear what is being said.

How many times have you gone to visit a friend who is grieving, only to see the dirty house, judged that, and not heard or seen the pain that isn’t being uttered? What is being spoken when we see the house, the hair that needs a cut, the meals that aren’t eaten? Are we hearing with our eyes? Are we seeing with our ears?

What if it is other family members in pain, or friends who are suffering from the same loss? Are we hearing and seeing right past each other? Are we thinking that because it is the same loss we’ll handle it in the same manner and at the same pace? During tense situations we tend to shut off, close down, and generally tune out the excess noise levels that we cannot tolerate. It is difficult to process everything when we’re hurting.  What can we do to bring sanity to ourselves and to those we engage with?

Here are some suggestions that, at different times and with different people, have been effective in providing solutions to tricky communication situations. This isn’t a complete list, but it should help you to think of original ideas that will work for you.

  1. Hold conversations in neutral spaces where you’re both on equal ground. 
  2. Own your feeling words. Feelings are never wrong: how you feel is how you feel.
  3. We’re going to have different feelings about the same situation because we’re different.
  4. Meet each other with respect. This means seeing the conversation through to its completion.
  5. If you need to pause the conversation, when will it resume?
  6. In a larger group, use a talking stick to indicate who the speaker is. It can be passed around the group. While the talking stick is in use, all members listen, and there is no crosstalk.
  7. Parroting what someone said is not conveying what they said. Respond to the visual and auditory cues as well. The response you give might have a question attached to it. For instance: You really like the new room, and I’m sensing there is still not something right with the space. Can you tell me more?
  8. If you know that the conversation is going to be difficult, bring that up first and give the person two or three options around when and how it can be done. Keep it realistic. In other words, hell freezing over, or the equivalent, is not a realistic option.
  9. Feeling volatile around a subject? Work off some of the energy around it before you engage. Being clearheaded in conversations will improve their outcome.
  10. Breathe deeply three times before you respond. In those three breaths, question the response you are preparing for respectfulness and consider the long-term damage a remark could make. Explore how you’d feel to be on the receiving end of the statement.


There is a musical trio known as The Kingston Trio, and during their recording career they recorded a little ditty called “The Merry Little Minuet.” While it might have been humorous, it was also a serious commentary on the times. That little minuet has been playing in my head lately.  The world seems to be falling apart. Wars, discord, unhappiness, and a pandemic all seem to be conspiring to bring us individually to a point of asking: How do I create a safe place of sanctuary for myself?

Those of us who have walked in the grief zone may be one up on this—but not necessarily. It depends on where we are in the process and how we’ve managed our self-care.

Sanctuary can be defined in many ways. The religious may see it as a place of worship. The spiritual person might see it as a state of being or a place in the heart. Still others may choose to view sanctuary as a specific location: their happy place. For this post, I’m going to use a bench found along a walking trail sheltered by trees that let the sun in so we feel its warmth.

How do we find this safe place? My experience is that it only comes to us as we shed the tears of pain, longing, desire, and uncertainty. It comes with the casting off of old certainties and beliefs and diving headfirst into the blackness of the unknown. It comes to us as we search for what we need and hope will spring forth from the ravages of trauma and personal havoc. In our recovery and rebuilding process, the hard work of deconstructing what was tires us out.

During our deconstruction process, we wonder about the ending. At first we stumble into momentary places of relief, but they are fleeting. Our work propels us forward to other new places of discovery. Slowly we encounter a place that offers us more than a brief rest and begins to take shape as a place of reflection and pause for our weary souls. Soon this place of the heart begins to heal us and to hold us in a place that we come to think of as sanctuary. It might hold us in a sacred place where only we’re allowed. It shelters and welcomes us. We can go there as needed.

With time, our reconstruction requires that we view our journey with both its pain and new hopes. We re-examine the old and discover the gift of the new. While what we’ve been through may have been hell, the place where we’ve arrived is a gift we’ve given ourselves.

Whether your personal grief was the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, mental illness that has left you debilitated, loss of faith or a faith transition, a failed relationship, or whatever hard thing life served you on your platter, you know this journey and place.

What does the above have to do with all of the crazy that is occurring in our world today? Those of us who have been to these dark places hold wisdom that will be useful to us in making peace with the world as it is.

We can and often do serve as witnesses that there is hope and support for you. We understand that pain can go away. We’ve asked the “When will this ever end?” question and discovered that we must hold space for searching our hearts. We’ve faced our personal realities and given them permission to blossom into something new and powerful.

We’ve come to learn that meditation, yoga, or a new spiritual self leads us to a park bench that we had no clue existed. We now sit on that bench and offer the questioner a place beside us. We can serve as life witnesses and companions for the weary because we did our own work.

As I reflect on the good, bad, and unpleasant of the past decades of life, I’ve come to realize that a topsy-turvy world can calm itself best if we center ourselves and take the time to quiet our souls. I look back and see how I didn’t have the skills to make it to a park bench. While I could manage a life-crisis situation and come out on top, I did not understand how to walk to the bench. The loss of my husband taught me to find the park bench and to be able to sit quietly on it. There is no drama here—only peace for my soul.

I think back on “The Merry Little Minuet” and reflect on my concerns for our present world state. Yes, I’m concerned that the U.S. is falling apart. I’m concerned that there is a war going on about a two-hour plane ride from here. I’m concerned that we’ll never feel as safe as we once did about viruses getting loose and infecting the world. I search my head and heart and in them I find peace because I’ve created a sanctuary for the soul. It is mine, and no one can take it from me.

Come, sit by me.

Truths in Death

My sister’s death and graveside service and the memorial that followed have given me time to think about perception. It is often thought that you shouldn’t speak “ill” of the dead. This is not healthy from a psychological perspective.

If there is truth to be told, there are reasons to consider telling it. Truths left untold can wound the soul. Truths that are silenced in a burial can be quite damaging. Speaking an honest reality promotes long-term healing.

The image we have in life of a person may not be the image we think we need to idealize in death. Before we tuck that squeaky-polished image into the mind, we need to ask questions: How will this hinder me going forward? In burying a truth, who is hurt? While we might want to polish the entire thing up, remember that the elements tarnish what we bury. Bodies decompose, stuff falls apart, time fades things in a negative way, and sooner or later the pieces fall apart.

With the decomposition of that which has been buried, we must also ask ourselves what it is we’re burying. We aren’t burying objects; we’re burying history. When we step back for a moment, it conjures up the thought of burying a family health history. And why would we bury vital facts that could save lives? How would that benefit us or those that follow after us? It’s the same with other history that has transpired.

If we can avoid creating generational trauma and the wounding of the soul, doing so will serve us well in the long run.

We all have a soul, though at times, some might doubt that they have a soul. You have it, and your spirituality, in whatever form it takes, stems from your soul. Your focus might be nature, walking, traveling to undiscovered places, making connections with others, or sitting in silence. The possibilities are endless!

Serving up an offering of love and generosity enables us to not wound ourselves.

I’m not good at burying things that need to be spoken. I’ve found that speaking the truth is far easier and less wounding, and that it serves us better in the healing process. Secrets can kill us. This is very true of family secrets.

I recently finished Healing the Soul Wound by Eduardo Duran. Eduardo is writing from the Native American perspective, is a psychologist, and offers up some wonderful insights on why we each need to address out individual pain.

A ceremony of my making for my personal memories that I want to work with is fine for addressing my perceptions and reality. I choose to do it privately.

I posted the question of what is taken from a memorial or funeral address and how it affects us, in hopes I’d get some great insights. I think I posted in the wrong place. The responses that came in were about the celebrations that were had: a party for the soul of the dead and the lives of the living.

As I sit here thinking about it, having a true celebration of life with no speeches doesn’t seem so bad. We still reflect on their lives. We still remember the good, bad, and ugly stuff. The truth of life is that none of us are saints, and the saints get elevated after death when they can’t protest the atrocity. This is a good thing for me, as I’m a huge Mother Teresa fan. 

Maybe the best thing for me to do with all of what was said is to let it stand. Allow for all perceptions to linger and move on. 

Love you, sis. We set you free and take our memories with us, allowing them to be what they are in our minds and hearts. I’ll create my own ceremony for you. That’s the way I’ll honor you.

Piece of Cake

A guy loses his wife after a thirty-year marriage and two weeks later he’s dating a new woman. Six months later he’s remarried.

Does this sound like a scene out of a crime show where the dude killed off the wife to pursue a love interest? Brace yourself: it happened!

Wifey poo died of cancer and this guy has barely buried the body and he’s finding a new woman. By the way, his kids are angry at him.

This story isn’t the first of its type that I’ve heard. But it is the first that was so quick where the partner didn’t commit a crime to start dating the new, soon-to-be partner.  I’ll admit that Jon and I watched a great many whodunnit shows. This guy took the cake!  

For some reason, this time, hearing this made me think about grief and finding a new partner. My view on this has changed over time. I think I’m still sorting this one out.

This is my six-year mark as a widow. My first two years were all about survival and learning how to get through the mess. The next two years were about the beginnings of peacemaking with myself and the good and bad of our relationship. Year five made me realize that maybe, with the right soul, I could do a new relationship. I’m still sitting with this one. The pandemic didn’t help, and it doesn’t help that I’m kind of shy and don’t put myself out there easily. I’ll admit that having a partner would be nice. I’ll also admit that I like calling the shots.

This brings up the question: When does one know how to move forward? My husband showed up at my back door! That isn’t happening a second time around. So how does one figure it out?

The question of figuring it out is one of the top questions asked during the grief and recovery process, right after “Am I doing this right?” This latter question is easily answered. If you’re staring grief in the face, and it is harder than hell, and you keep turning over the rocks to answer the new questions that come up for you, you’re doing it right. If, on the other hand, you jump off the grief bus because you’re feeling empty without a partner—whoa. Get yourself back on the grief bus, find a therapist who speaks good grief language, and start digging into the question of why you need to find someone.

When a marriage is successful and you want to create a new one just like what you had before, scrap the idea. It will blow up in the face of both of you. Your chemistry won’t be the same, you won’t be the same, what you want won’t be the same. 

This also goes for divorce situations. This is especially true when you divorce without doing all the grief and loss work around a failed marriage. When you do the work around the failed marriage—and do all the work you can—and then find someone new, your chances of not having a repeat divorce situation are statistically higher. This is data from a page that comes from the legal profession. I’d have to say that the stat for a second marriage holds for my widowed female-identifying friends: 60% fail rate. So why?

Relationship attitudes have changed. I’m not one to say that my grandparents’ generation did marriage really well. They didn’t. Many of them did understand the give-and-take of marriage and learned to make it work. Some of them stayed in an abusive marriage because, at the time, women didn’t have the options that are out there now. A minority were able to walk away and, with support, build strong lives as single parents, or did the work to find a second partner that did work out. It wasn’t such a disposable world then, and people worked hard at making it work.

The calm 1950s turned out to be an unseen pressure cooker for the explosion of the 1960s. Take your pick of the “I don’t need to stay in a bad situation anymore” scenarios! The Civil Rights Movement, women’s rights, and being a member of the “Tang” generation. Our classmates’ parents were breaking up, moving on, and generally not willing to settle for a sub-par situation when the perceived options and advantages for one’s mental health were available.

The bailout of the 1960s through the 1980s taught the kids that maybe relationships weren’t forever. In 1994 the term “starter relationship” was coined. I’ll admit to not having read the books cited in the article. So why am I sidetracking you? Because I believe we’ve lost touch with just how difficult the first five years of marriage can be. We’ve lost touch with the fact that there are options to scope things out before you move in together or pay an obscene amount of cash for an affair that may blow up before the debt is paid off. Because, if there are two things I’m certain of, they are that premarital counseling is a must, and that engagements are not about planning a marriage celebration—they are for breaking things off. 

If there is anything we need to remember when we believe we want to find partner number two, it is that relationship number two could fail. Here are some good questions to ask yourself as you entertain the possibility of finding someone new:

  • Why am I looking for a new partner?
  • What do I think the new relationship will be like?
  • Is this person going to have a specific job/role in the new relationship?
  • What do I want in a new relationship?
  • Have I done the hard sorting of the old relationship issues—both the good and the bad?
  • If I can’t see any negative in the past relationship, why is this?
  • Am I willing to invest in some therapy to make sure I’m looking at this correctly?
  • What would it be like to not pursue a new relationship?
  • What would my life look like in both situations?
  • (If children are involved): Am I willing to put a relationship on hold until the kids are feeling secure with me and the new situation?

I often tell people to give it one month per every year you were in the relationship. But I’ve come to the conclusion that one month per year isn’t long enough. Sometimes the healing takes years, is painful, and doing single is the best way to have your relationship cake and eat it too.

On My Way to Somewhere Else

Losses in our lives happen in many ways, and my greatest loss happened while I was trying to get to somewhere else that wasn’t on my agenda, or at least not in print. It happened in a way I won’t forget: a walk downstairs to find an altered life. A note on the dinner table telling me where his body was. That was the part of the promise he did keep.

We write scripts for our lives, and when they are interrupted the jolt can be confusing and difficult to understand. While we’re making our way along the road, the demons interrupt our peaceful walk and give us the boot off our carefully manicured path into something more like sludge, mess, and unexpected confusion.

At first, we panic, and then we try to extricate ourselves from this place, only to find ourselves pulled further into the mess of the sludge. When we realize that we can best exit the sludge by remaining calm, relaxing, and working with it, we’re free to embrace it. We can then deal with the mess in this new place. We figure out that the best method for getting free from where we are now trapped is exploring it for alternative exit options. That is how most grief and loss journeys begin: a surrender to the unknown.

I got out of the immediate sludge state and realized that there was a mountain in front of me, and that I needed to go through it to reach the place I needed to get to. That was both a relief and rather terrorizing.

With the unwanted interruption to our lives, we forget where we were headed, focusing on the path before us that has become cluttered with boulders, fallen trees, and strange critters that inhabit the once pristine path we thought we were on, and realizing that we’ve been transported to a much different place altogether. Where are we? What is this about, and will it be a help or hindrance?

No, we’re not in Oz or anyplace like it, though a part of us may wish for ruby slippers that we can click to take us magically back to before we wound up wherever this is now. We don’t get the slippers. Instead, we receive a walking stick that will come in handy in turning over the rocks, giving us leverage to lift the heavy trees that block our route, and in testing the strange new critters to see if they are friend or foe.

It’s taken several minutes to construct this, and yet the descent into this place happens instantly. We’re just not aware that within seconds of hearing they’re dead, “I’m leaving you,” “I’m moving out to pursue…,” or whatever the loss is, we’re sent by our mind into this place. As we grapple with it in those first few moments, we realize that our control is gone. Will we ever be the same? Will our world ever feel the same?

The Answer Everyone Wants

In this place we ask: When will it end? And when will things return to normal? The honest answer that we eventually discover is that we’ll develop a new normal, discover a new life path, and renegotiate what our personal universe looks like and what it is filled with. We forget about the old somewhere that had held us captive and begin searching for a new somewhere else. The catch to this search is that things no longer work the way they once did. The topsy-turvy has flung us into the unknown. All we can do is thrash around until we find something to grab onto that feels stable. 

We start to learn that the tears, the missing, and the uncertainty will fade over time, and in their place the texture and quality of what is present in our lives changes. Slowly, we stop asking when and start focusing on the how to of this new place. This leads us to finding a support system, a new village of people that is populated with those who will become our new friends. They understand where we are! They’ve been in the sludge, gotten out, and faced their own mountain. They’ve dismissed some old village residents due to the fact that they left the village or are not able to attend to the needs in the village at this time. We find a therapist who speaks our language and we seek out spiritual direction, or stumble into another path altogether. As we gain strength and our concentration returns, we begin reading books and are able to question and act on those questions. 

This new place of discovery is exciting, scary, and wide open. Oh, the options that we can explore!  Slowly, the places we were headed fade away, and we’re left only with new things to discover. 

You know how people say that we’ve changed? We have! If we do the work of grief, loss, and pain well enough, we reinvent ourselves. There are old things, new things, and a bunch of creation waiting to spring forth. It can all be good. In the meantime, the question we wanted answered disappears as we become involved in the process of creating new life within ourselves. New life and meaning are unique to each of us.

The tears and the missing are still present. They’ve taken on a new form and texture. For me, it was somewhere in my year three that I noticed the real change. How did this happen? It wasn’t about time; it was processing and a world view change. It is something we experience and understand due to the work we do around our grief, loss, and pain, effecting change deep within. 

Noticing the Gift

For some people, the loss and the grief that are encountered become a gift. What? How can this be? I’ll admit that on August 29, 2016, if you had told me I’d be typing these words in 2021, I’d have had said something to the effect of “You’re nuts!” I’m typing this and I know I’m not nuts. Telling someone at the beginning of the process that change will happen is counterproductive to the process. There are some “please do’s” and “please don’ts” that are essential to observe.

Relationships can trap us, cause us to shortchange ourselves, or make us second-guess what we want in our lives—to name just a few of the things that can happen. The fact that she cheated on you and didn’t want to work it out is sad. After the heartache passes, a new discovery of freedom comes.

He or she is now gone; the love you once had will always remain, and now you are asking new questions. You want something different from before, and finding it is a good thing. You haven’t changed; you’ve grown! You are beginning to trust your own knowing, and this is an essential component of finding the new place of existence.

The gift of the tragedy is not pleasant. We are called to understanding through the unveiling of new options that we truly have choices if look and access them in the present. It is what we find buried in the rubble that was once sitting out in the open, waiting for us to discover it for the first time. 

We couldn’t see it where we were because our understanding of our lives was focused on the life we had then. We weren’t stumbling along the path, attempting to find the new points of entrance into the new place that we need to get to.

I know some who have needed to step into employment for the first time in their lives and now report feeling fulfillment in a way they never have before. I know others who took the chance of a new career. Somehow, the lack of security allowed them to risk big! For others, it is doing the same thing with fresh new insight into the things they value most. For me, it resulted in several things. My favorite is that I returned to school for a certificate in spiritual direction. I love the program! Would I have discovered this had I not been widowed? NO! It took me moving to a new place and finding a new path to walk to do what I’m doing now.

Along the way, we employ new navigation strategies, discover our “rose rooms,” and come to an understanding that the interruption that occurred on the way to somewhere else, while tragic, has become a touchstone in our lives.

Minor Stroke of…

*Note: This happened in 2014. The similarities between a minor stroke and grief are mind-blowing.

October 3rd was a glorious and warm fall day. Jon and I were visiting friends. The drive south was warm and sunny, and we were having a great conversation. The visit was great and we were now headed home for a nice long weekend. We were in Utrecht, stuck in traffic, and I was getting tired. I put my head down. “We need to leave for home earlier,” I said. Once again, rush hour.

Pulling into Huizen, we decided to run to the store for butter, and I stayed in the car because I was just so tired. It was then that I lost all strength in my neck. I couldn’t keep my neck up! Weird as it was, I ignored it. Jon helped me into the house and I just sat on the sofa. He made dinner and we watched television.

It was after a bit of whatever-it-was-we-were-watching that we took a pause and he noticed me. I felt terrible and my right leg and left arm felt funny. He said that my face looked like it was drooping. We called the after-hours doctors. They sent a doctor out. I knew then that something was really wrong, and that I was headed to, as Jon and I call it, the “big house.” Yet another medical adventure was underway.

After the doctor took a look and got my history, he phoned Utrecht UMC. It was determined that I would go there, as my records were there and they knew about my situation.

The best way to describe what happened to me is that I felt detached from my world, and my body was not in my control. I felt suspended in space and at the same time, as if I were a heavy, limp weight that had to be helped to do things. My right leg felt like it was suspended in mid-air. I would later be able to state that I felt as if my leg were “drunk.”

Ambulances are weird spaces. They can be disorienting and scary. Instinctively I knew I was having a stroke but I didn’t want to verbalize it. That was too terrible a concept to utter. At the time I just wanted Jon to be with me, and it seemed like it took him forever to get there. As usual, there had been a car accident, so the doctor was off with somebody else.

Finally at 2:00 am, I sent Jon home. They’d be coming for me to admit me, and he needed rest. As it turned out, I won the hospital lotto that night and was wheeled into a private room. Now that was luck! Peace was to be mine in the days that followed as my health crisis unfolded. It had only begun on that Friday evening.

Before admitting me they had done a CT scan, but not an MRI: That would be done Monday. CT scans don’t show everything and this one was no exception. I had lots of symptoms that didn’t seem to last, or make sense. By mid-Sunday my right leg felt paralyzed. As I lay there wondering what was coming next, I thought, What if my lungs shut down? What if I can’t breathe? Or, what if I die in this room all alone? Now, that got me thinking. Being alone in this situation was scary. I would later beg a nurse not to leave me in the middle of the night. He was great and stayed until I calmed down.

By this time in the process, I needed assistance in getting around. It was not fun and certainly somewhat embarrassing, but you do what you have to do to keep what dignity you can. My speech was also being affected in strange ways; it was different from anything I had experienced before. The left side of my face felt like it had puffed up, as well as my tongue, and I was speaking weirdly. I was now scared. The nurses just watched.

Throughout the entire process they kept asking me to rate the pain. The rating was never higher than an eight. I had suffered worse pain with a pancreatitis attack! They kept asking and I kept telling them where things stood.

Monday came and I wound up getting an MRI. Then it was time to wait. And wait I did.

Jon came and it felt safe. Then the three doctors came in. There were no smiles. This isn’t good news, I thought. I heard the word “stroke” and then I was swirling in words. The whole thing sounded like the voice of the teacher in Charlie Brown. I just faded in and out and thought, What have I lost? I was sure that my right leg and left arm were damaged. Anything else? I thought as I lay there taking an inventory.

I wanted to scream “STOP!” so I could process this. “STOP! You are going way too fast! I’m falling behind!” Jon was now upset and asking why they had not done the MRI sooner. Why had they not seen the stroke on Friday? We thought I had not had a stroke because of the CT scan. Yet in my gut I had known I was having a stroke. I’d just had the weekend to believe otherwise. Why had I deluded myself?

Now I had to tell my family what the real situation was. I knew this would disturb my mother—it did. She was already thinking that I’d die. Thousands of miles away, she wasn’t taking it well. I only found that out when I spoke to my sister. The friends we’d visited on Friday had contacted Jon to see how I was doing. Upon finding out now that I’d suffered a stroke, they drove up to the UMC to be there and offer support.

The nice thing about private rooms is that nursing staff will let you violate the rules with visitors. They stayed until nearly 10:00 pm. Then they left, and Jon followed shortly after. I was now alone. I had to now make a choice about medication. That seemed to be one thing I remembered in the earlier conversation.

The last thing I wanted to deal with at this point in time was vision loss. I had to decide if I was willing to risk just that. Did I want to risk going blind but still be functional? I knew it could happen. It was a chance I had to take. I had to risk taking a drug that would save my body from another stroke but could wipe out the remaining 12% of my sight. I spent Tuesday agonizing over the choice, knowing that I had to accept the pill or whatever it was I was in for. I was still symptomatic and Wednesday it was decided for me. I drank the powder that would be a daily routine until forever.

Wednesday also brought with it a friend who knew of a great rehab center that was 15 minutes from home. I am so thankful that Marion knew where I could go for the needed rehab. Sometimes you get lucky with the right information when you least expect it. I feel very fortunate that way. So, I might not have had a say in medication usage, but I did get to have a say in where the rehab was to be done. I was learning that I had to take what positives were handed to me and accept them. The anger at the negatives would come in time and all too soon.

I got lucky in that there has been no major damage. You never get well from a stroke. You can recover a certain amount of usage and strength. You can learn to manage energy wisely and move on. But, you don’t get well. That will never happen, and believing that you will get well is a myth. So, I’ve entered the recovery and learning phase of post minor stroke in my life.

I have shed tears, felt despair and emptiness, and at times feel like I’m a burden to Jon. He is listening and offering support. I know this isn’t easy on him either. It is a balancing act of allowing him bad days as well.

I appreciate that friends and family want to send kind thoughts and prayers. I think that is more of a comfort to them because somehow they feel as if they are helping. It is nice to be thought of in that way when I am so far from you. What I need is help and at this point that means phone calls and visits, as well as a meal so that Jon doesn’t have to shoulder it all by himself.

I just folded some laundry and I’m wiped out. You don’t know how much energy you consume until you don’t have any to put out. In the past few weeks my life has changed. I know it will change more. Some things will be good and others won’t be so easy. I got lucky; it could have been so much worse, and I’m thankful that it wasn’t. I will recover all I can. I will build strength up in as many ways as I can. I have begun the fight in simple ways. This is something I know how to do: the inner warrior is back. I’m ready to fight for everything I can recover.

Today I’m Thankful for Science

*Note: This was written in 2015. Putting it up now seemed right.

Today I’m thankful for science. I am glad that I am breathing, and functional, and that I get to go to physical therapy. I am glad that during this coming week I’ll begin the process of strengthening my arm and my leg. I’m glad that there are people who understand what it is all about.

I’m thankful that there are doctors, and others, that took the time to sit in classrooms and labs, and learn about what is going on in my brain. I’m thankful that they had the curiosity to study and learn. I’m glad that there were people who went before, who allowed interns and residents to work on them and study them so that they could get an education.

I think back to my days as an intern in grad school and my postgrad work. I’m thankful for clients who let me learn via the process of working with them. Next week on the 27th of November, there is a day of gratitude that is celebrated in the U.S. For those who are U.S. citizens: What will you give thanks for? What is your life all about? Who has made your life better this year? Whom do you owe a great thank-you to?

Once again I will thank my sister for the trip to the U.S. I will thank her kids for helping it to be a success. I am thankful for the fact that I was able to spend three weeks with my mother. I’m thankful that I got that time because I don’t know if I’ll ever have that again. (Thanks for the bash!!!)

I am thankful for friends. I wish I could see more of you, but you are there and I’m here, and our hearts are together.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the complex that we forget the very simple. I am writing a simple post because I want to remind you of the many things you have. You have the ability to move your hands, to walk to the mailbox, and to see the sun. You can open the box or click with the mouse. Somewhere you know someone who CAN’T. During the next year, pledge to extend to them a service they need. Pick up the phone and call them more often.

Gratitude is a two-way street. We need to take the time to be thankful for the stuff we have. We need to create things for others to be thankful for. It is about giving and receiving.

It is raining and cold outside, and I’m inside where it is toasty and warm. Penelope just popped by to say hello and stick her tongue out at me. I look up and see my back-lit parasols that Jon put up here in my workspace. I owe him a great debt of gratitude for the last five weeks. He has cooked and cleaned and comforted me when I’ve been sad and blue. I cannot repay this but I can give a thankful heart and a very public mention.

On Tuesday I will have my first physical therapy session and I hope I get pushed to the max. I will also have my first ergotherapy session and that, too, will be a challenge. I can’t wait!!!!

I Think I’m in Mourning

Grieving or mourning? That is the question some are asking now.

With the onset of quarantines, being in isolation, missing seeing those we love, and social distancing, what’s not to be sad about?

I can’t sit in my favorite restaurant and eat my favorite sandwich. I can’t get my hair done. I can’t do a great many things that I was able do in January. Because I’m at a higher risk for this than some adults, I chose to quarantine as soon as I knew there was a danger of getting the Coronavirus.

Two full months into this process, I’m missing the human contact. I’m missing planning a lunch outing. I’m sad, but not really grieving. I’m mourning what I can’t have right now. I believe I’ll get it back. I haven’t lost it forever.

So, those who have love—and have food to cook—are eating their way through this thing. We’re wearing more elastic waistbands and not buttoning our shirts. If we’re home, our dress code is a wee bit more laid-back. We aren’t missing the dress clothes.

I’m sad and I mourn what once was and what I didn’t understand could vanish, because to have it could kill the innocent and those at high risk. So many are at risk! So I stay home and connect with Zoom and Facebook. It isn’t the same, but it is something. I’ll take it!

As my count continues to rise in the area of “people I know who’ve had the Covid-19 virus,” and has gone from needing more than one hand to count on, I am sobered. No one I know has died from this—yet. I mourn the change it has brought to our world.

There are those who now grieve the loss of those they love. For them there will be faces missing around a gathering. Taken too early by a thing we don’t fully understand.

In my home, while I mourn what was lost, I also am seeing the positive. We are being shown that the earth can heal if we, as humans, step back and allow it to do so. This process has also shown me that there is a time to reach out and a time to have the quiet of my peaceful space. Don’t get me wrong, I love my princess of a cat, but when you start to want her to talk so that you can hear another voice in the room, it is time to reconsider the situation.

I think what I’m attempting to convey here is that yes, this situation sucks royally. Yes, there are some good learning points that can, and will, come out of this. Maybe tonight I’ll have food delivered just for the human contact and hearing another voice. Or maybe wait until Friday. Whatever I do, I know that I’ll get some of this back. Things might change for everyone, but change doesn’t mean lost. Change means growth, and that is a good thing for everyone. Yes, I’m sad and mourning, but I’ll get to have my sandwich and great fries again.

What will you get to have?


“Mommy, are we there yet?”

The woman in the front seat of the car is fighting the urge to turn around and duct-tape her child’s mouth shut—permanently. This phenomenon has happened on every long journey since time immemorial. Then the mother has this flash in her mind that carries her back to the beginning of time and particles smashing together. Maybe it even happened with the sludge of the universe as the Big Bang occurred. Imagine two atoms: “Are we there yet? Are we done yet? Can we get on with the Paleozoic Era?” But, duct-taping them would have caused a disaster. She smiles to herself instead and continues to focus on the road ahead.

Maybe in the grand scheme of the cosmos, delayed gratification is one of the great laws. The universe took the time it needed to come to its present state. That can teach us something. The universe was formed with only what it had on hand from the first moment all things slammed together and all things followed in order. No credit here. It waited. The universe used its resources where it needed them, when it was ready for each new phase.

Let’s face it: Putting pleasurable stuff off is a drag, but a necessary drag. Delayed gratification is about learning to respect the journey. Delaying gratification is about knowing that you can never have it all, instantly. Delaying gratification is about learning to work for what you want—waiting for the good stuff until you can get it in a healthy fashion.

But isn’t that a myth? You well remember that last flick that showed someone having it all: the big house, expensive car, fashionable wardrobe, fulfilling job, loving family and friends, and, let’s not forget—physical beauty. But, it rarely comes instantly. Real success, like the universe we live in, is painstakingly forged one item at a time. Yet, today, there are those who can’t wait. Saving is a thing of the past. Sorting out needs from wants is becoming blurred.

Remember childhood with its lazy times of fun and exploration? If you are old enough to have been raised during a time when play was really creative and done outdoors, you perhaps remember when books were a passage into another world (and not instantly made into movies), and TV was something that you watched for very few hours weekly. If your childhood was like this, then you are one of those who learned a valued lesson: doing fun things takes planning and time.

It is also highly probable that chores and learning to work were a natural part of your life. You had to save for what you purchased. I remember going to the store to purchase some shoes I’d saved for. For weeks I walked by that store window and looked at those slingbacks. Getting them made me feel “adult” and responsible. I earned those shoes. I wore them out proudly, had them repaired, and continued to wear them out.

For each of us the lesson is different: Anticipation is a good thing. Anticipation makes the gift we are receiving more intriguing, the new dress more exciting, and the new car that we saved up for more valuable. Anticipation gives a deeper meaning to most things we have and desire. There is a type of magic to working for something. Keeping it becomes valuable to you because to discard it when it still works means that you are discarding your hard work. Tossing it out just to get the latest thing can be an issue.

As I think of all the technology that has evolved since I was a kid, I remember that sunny, July day when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon and life as we then knew it was altered. The moment was electric. Now it seems that much of the “electric” has gone out of innovation and progress. Progress is a constant in an advanced society. More and more, having it all instantly is a must. Trading up for the latest in tech, when the old is still of value, is common. To suggest that you keep what you have might be heresy. It is about having the latest and dumping the old. There is a rush on to have it all NOW with no waiting period.

We now have smartphones, smart drugs, and smarter cars, and yet we have not become any smarter ourselves. While results are faster, we as humans are still finite. We live through our technology. We live, thinking and feeling as if all answers must come fast, as if deeper thought should somehow be instant. We want that insight NOW, rather than being willing to let life teach us. We might even become impatient when our first few searches on Google fail to turn up what we need. Searching shouldn’t take us so much time. Why can’t we get it faster? Well, searching on Google is hard work, that’s why. Finding the correct answer does take some deeper looking and heavier reading. In the process you might conclude that there is not a perfect, or good enough, answer to your search, and that maybe it DOESN’T exist out there in cyberspace.

Remember when science was supposed to save us? Remember when the Peace Movement was the answer to conflict? Remember when autonomy was the answer to authority? I think we need to reread The Glory and The Dream by William Raymond Manchester.

Maybe we as a world need duct tape on our gratification instincts. Okay, that is an eensy, weensy, bit extreme. Or is it?

I have taken up baking. It is wonderful to create something that comes out of the oven and is warm and yummy. The fact is that baking demands that you wait. There is a proper time when eating will bring the desired pleasures of good food. Just think of something you love melting in your mouth and your brain will light up in anticipation. Your mouth might begin to prepare for the pleasure as you read this. BUT, you have to work to make it, so you had better make lots of it to enjoy!!!! Yikes!! I want to eat those scones I plan to bake for Saturday, but I want them right now!!!

The whole idea for this commentary came from a conversation I had with someone about the guide dog I’m working on getting. I’ve been in this process since 2010. At this point, I just want to move on. I’ve had to think about whether I’m ready, or even wanting, to move forward, because I can’t wait. Like the universe, I have had to work with raw thoughts. I’ve had to shape and train them. Crossing the street in safer places has become a must. Thinking about HOW I’ll do it and memorizing routes takes time. Learning the train stations and bus stations has been fun, but I’m glad I’m past that.

I’ve had to reevaluate my established walking routes, my future needs, and the needs of our cat, Penelope, who will have to welcome a dog into the house. Getting this dog is life changing, and making the correct choice at the right time is important for our family.

I’ve spent 15 months in Apeldoorn learning what things that I’ve needed, and lacked. While I was in Apeldoorn, I was also able to observe others with dogs. My process is of more value because of all of this. While I don’t want to rush things, I feel the time has come to move things along. It isn’t about “when” but rather about the process and how secure I feel with it.

Childhood is all about “getting there.” Young adulthood seems to be moving in the direction of attempting to get it as fast as possible and show it off. Eventually there comes a time in life when you reach “wisdom,” or the point when you accept that you never will fully have everything you think you need, but that you can have the “needful things.” The journey is what it is all about. Saving up for the good stuff is where the greatest reward lies. Understanding our real needs and allowing ourselves to have wants that might become realities brings peace through expectation.

“Mommy, are we EVER going to get there?”

“Yes honey, count the green and red cars, and tell me how many you can find.” I’ll be content to count the red and green cars until the doggy enters my life. I hope it is sooner than later because I feel better about “it” coming into my life now.

*Note: The dog turned out to be a no go.


The air was crisp and the trees were colorful. I was happy because my favorite season of the year was present. Autumn was present in every form including the warm colors of clothing that I loved so much.

For me autumn is what I like best about the year. The northern California Indian-summer days, and the crisp feel that you get when you are out and about, are wonderful. As a child, going back to school—which I didn’t like because I had to stop reading what I wanted—was only tolerable because it meant AUTUMN was in the air. For me the world was then, and is now, perfect in the autumn.

As you age, the seasons melt into the cycles of time. The playfulness of life and a budding spring and its excitement give way to the learning of summer. Oh, and summer is filled with exploration and the joys and perils of adventure: the challenges and joys of learning on your own, as you discover that the lessons of young childhood and early adulthood must become a basis for your fast-but-seemingly-slowly-approaching full onset of adulthood. There might be some true “yikes” moments during summer. Those “yikes” moments, when you catch yourself about to make a life decision that is better rethought, can be a good thing. “Yikes” means that you are aware of what is going on!!!!

Summer brings discovery of your real “self” emerging into view. Summer also brings a desire to have it all. You don’t want to see it end. You want to play hard and never see the sun go down. Summer brings a growth that you learn from trial and error. The lessons of spring and the early summer remain with you as you feel the time now fast approaching when autumn is on the way.

If you’ve had those yikes-type moments, and have taken the time to repair what needed fixing, you are in good shape now.

Autumn is the season of wisdom. Autumn is the time when the lessons of a young spring and summer are played out. Autumn is a time of realization, regrets, new focuses in life, and a time of hopes, as well as sorrows. Before autumn ends, and the onslaught of winter comes with its powerful resolution to destroy all that you hold dear, you must navigate through the autumn.

Autumn is, in a sense, “karma collection,” or payback. Realizing that I could have made better choices has only come because I made the not-so-good choices. I took risks in life. The thing about autumn is that you can’t turn back. And, you can’t avoid it, because everything we do in life has a price attached. You must adapt, accept, let the leaves of autumn fall, and move on.

Autumn still offers me time to change, to learn, and to grow. I love autumn! Raking up autumn’s leaves is important, and like it is for a child who jumps in the pile of leaves (you know, the one he or she is told NOT to jump in), it can be exhilarating. I like to inventory the leaves and really see what is there. I learn from this inventory and that is always good. I love the process of change, even though, at times, change is an unwanted aspect of life. Getting through the trials of change still brings me hope. I am better for it.

As I now reflect on my spring, and the innocence in which I lived it, I’m amazed I did as well as I did. I look at my life and realize that it has had its challenges. Challenge is what it’s about. I’m not always thankful for that which has kicked me from behind or punched me in the front. But, I can honestly say that I’ve knocked down the walls that have sprung up in my path. Tearful days and nights have made me stronger and wiser when it comes to life. It is the mistakes that make you think about the new stuff in a self-confrontational manner.

If my spring was innocent, my summer was an adventure in learning. By being able to make both good and bad choices, and dealing with the consequences of those choices, I grew. Summer is a time when the life bank account is in “deposit mode,” and what you put in will, in the future, be withdrawn. You will have to pay for your summer. Some payments will work well, and others will hurt like having a tooth pulled without the Novocain. Life is like that, and you can’t turn from it. Sooner or later, the crisp days of autumn roll around and you enter that time when all accounts begin to go into “withdrawal mode.”

I am amazed when I hear someone say that they really haven’t had any challenging stuff happen in life. I wonder to myself what they haven’t been doing. The fact is, life is a series of challenges. Making mistakes is a good thing because it can mean that you are engaged in the life process. Learning from your mistakes means that you are progressing and committed to doing better as you move through life. Autumn is that time of the year when one can reflect.

I’ve come to the serious conclusion that few are blessed with all the wisdom they need to make life decisions at 20 or even 25 years old, and yet that is what is demanded of the young. I hear of more and more adults in their 40s or 50s who embrace the unknown of what they really want to do. They are happier for it. Autumn is a time to rethink, to take a risk, and to change the course of life. “If only I knew” becomes “Why not?”

Autumn is when you realize that it isn’t “too late” or “hopeless.” Grab the brass ring and do it!!!

Healing from the springs and summers of life makes everything more valuable. Reflection during our autumns causes us to sober up, to appreciate our youth for what it was, and to anticipate the future for what we can create as vibrant adults. Whether we’ve done it well enough in the past, or are choosing to do it well at this point in life, autumn is that time of life.

I’ve learned via observation that those who seem more at peace during their winters are those who have challenged themselves during their autumns. They are actively enjoying the lives they’ve built, and face with dignity the storms that life will still produce. I will always cherish what each autumn brings to me.

As I look out my window and notice the sun’s changing position, and feel the lowering temperature, I know that once again my favorite season is approaching. Autumn, with its crisp days and warmer colors, is just around the corner. I can’t wait.

Unending Story

A Place for My Heart

Towards the end of my work in Apeldoorn, I became aware of my personal space in the house. We moved into this house in March of 2011, and I was busy with the details of settling in and making sure our things had places. The upstairs rooms are small and it was a challenge to really know which space was best for what.

The downstairs is an open room that is “our space,” with the kitchen at one end and the other end for general use. We both like to be in the kitchen and we are learning to share the space—happily. It is nice to have a guy who wants to cook with me. The space where I work is a tiny room that has many Gail-type things within. Recently this space has seemed a wee bit cramped. Cramped isn’t good for the soul. What can I do?

Slowly, over the past month, I began to notice the lack of a feminine place for me to exist within. I’ve considered creating a dressing table where I could keep all the things that make my head pretty. The problem is that there isn’t the space to place such a table.

So Hubby will make the table, and when he really gets down to the business of design (which I’ve already done in many ways) and creating, the finished product will be wonderful. It will be nice to have the table when it is completed.

Places of Passion

As a beautiful place for me is a must, so is a place that sparks life as essential as breathing. For me, my work is such a place. I find that I become a joyous and happy soul when I think in terms of what I love and do well. I find myself exploring questions that, in turn, lead to other questions and cause me to wander over vast areas of space. I dip into one space, only to find a jumping-off point for another. The “what if” and “what about this, or that” span into hours of discussion time with another person and cause me to tingle and feel a type of life that exists nowhere else. This type of knowledge energizes me in a way that nothing else does. When I am not able to have this in my life, I find life to be dull, as if a vital ingredient is missing. I knew at a young age what I wanted professionally, and was not able to reach that goal until I was in my 30s. At 16 I was fortunate to meet, and know, someone who had returned to graduate school to pursue her master’s degree at a later age. As we spoke, and I discovered what it was she was doing, I started asking questions that we could talk about. She would tell me about what she was learning, and I discovered that I had valid opinions about what we were discussing. Psychology fit my brain in ways that studying history did not do for me. I was alive. I was also hooked.

I found that one of my early areas of interest was working with people of differing cultures; at first it was those with disabilities. How could the family system be strengthened when disability rears its head within the family walls? My interests have branched out to those of other nationalities and cultures and exploring the richness within. What was someone’s experience as a Peruvian or Mexican? How do they experience life in a different country?

During my graduate period, I began to explore other areas as well as the above-mentioned ones. Art and creativity and music were a special focus. I became aware of using journals and the power of writing it all down. I also began to understand the traumas that people endure and how they cope with them. Ultimately, my love of disability issues has remained firm. There is power in freeing the person who may be told “You can’t because you are […].” I believe that many things are possible. It is all about finding a path and making that journey—and it will take courage. This journey will change everything.

The Journey Within

There is something about the journey, and exploration of a person’s journey, that ignites excitement within my heart and soul. An “aha” moment when a light switches on, the click when a missing piece of the puzzle is found, the discovery that what one believes can change, or the finding of a new path. I want to know what the next bend in the road brings me and where the journey is headed. Change is exciting and challenging.

Respect is also a vital component. Someone is letting me into their inner space. I am allowed to walk with them through hardships and triumphs. If there is a failure, I need to respect and honor the process of their recovery and rediscovery. Compassion and respect can be a powerful ally in the healing process. It is sorrow I feel when someone decides to not go further on the path that would lead them to a better place in life, BUT at some future time, they may resume the journey. Life is full of uncertainty and how we each face the unknown says so much about us. If we each had a crystal ball, would we use it? If we saw the challenges ahead, would we still choose to go down that path? Life is about learning and meeting the challenge. “If only I had” kills the spirit. “If only I had” deprives each of us of what we can learn and gain from the mistake.

Part of my personal journey in life has been my own process of learning to ponder slowly. Learning that I don’t have to get anywhere fast has been a nice consequence of aging. Now I am prone to concluding things for myself in my own time. I may sit on something for some time before grokking it in proper fashion. My brain and soul are on a quiet and slow path to understanding the needful things. I wasn’t always as slow to conclude as I am now. The time of youth was far different. I cherish where I am and what can come of it. Who I am during my 50s will be a far cry from what I will have learned by 75 and who I will have become. If I haven’t changed and become a better person, what is the use of life? Maybe there will be one younger than myself who gains from the wisdom I’ve gathered. Someone who will say to me “You are so wise,” and I will have to say “I’ve come by this through imperfection and making both wise and stupid choices.” Maybe I’ll laugh at the thought that I’m thought to be wise. Only time will tell.

Places of Mystery

Isn’t that what all this is about? Living our best, leaving a legacy for others? Making the world a better place because we’ve touched it and made a change somewhere during our existence? Isn’t life all about doing good and not even knowing where the good leads to? You never know what you can say to reach out and inspire someone along the way. Because of what you say or do, someone might be inspired to take the first step towards a new beginning. I heard of such a situation just this afternoon: something my husband did has changed someone’s life for the better. He had no way of knowing that his willingness to be so open would help someone else reach out and move down the path of life.

I’m excited because someone is headed to a new place of discovery and mystery that will bring change and fulfillment. I’m alive!!!!

Music Bridging the Gap

“Love in any language,

Straight from the heart,

Pulls us all together,

Never apart.”

And once we learn to speak it,

“All the world will hear

Love in any language

Fluently spoken here.”

Sandi Patty sang this song and it was authored by John Mays and Jon Mohr.

Throughout my life, it has been music that has saved me from the insanity of life’s happenings. Music has been a vital part of my day. It has calmed me, allowed me to express emotions that I could otherwise not readily connect with, and it has allowed me to create wonderful things. There is one other wonderful thing about music: it is an equalizer.

My earliest memory of music is of my father playing the piano. I grew up hearing Grieg, Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn, and countless others. Music was sometimes what I would drift off to sleep with. Music was also a chance for me to sing. I couldn’t do many things as a toddler, but I could carry a tune. I was singing before I could talk or walk. Because of my father’s music background, I was tested for absolute pitch, or perfect pitch, as it is more popularly known. I don’t quite have that, but I’m not far off from it. Considering the fact that I also have hearing loss, this isn’t too shabby. I’m proud of what I can do with music, and that I’m good enough to sing with a string quartet. It would be great to sing with an orchestra. What a blast that would be!!!!

I’ve sung in Italian, German, Spanish, and Latin. Music is a way of universal communication. Music, when done well, can shine as an example in any language with the beauty that it contains. I am discovering that there are beautiful recordings in the Dutch language. When I listen to them, the guttural Dutch sound becomes a thing of wonder. When the singer sculpts the words, well, there is an understanding that bridges the gap. Just like the “I love you” that is spoken in any language, the meaning cannot be misconstrued. So, “love in any language” becomes “music in any language.”

Music is the one thing that anyone can do!!! Think about it for a minute: You can teach someone to carry a tune and match the note. But, you don’t have to teach a child to open their mouth and sing. Singing comes naturally. Intelligence and physical ability are not factors here. Music is everyone’s gift of being heard.

Bridges to the Heart

Throughout my life there have been many bridges. One of the most powerful of those bridges has been volunteerism. During my life, I have been both a volunteer and the person on the receiving end. Both sides of the process are filled with positive feelings.

There are many ways of giving. Some commit to careers of service to others. Many people choose to give to an organization that represents something meaningful to them.

As I stop to think about the process that my future guide dog will have gone through, the first phase of that is the volunteer family who will take “my Eyelette” into their home and love and play with him, or her. What a gift!!!! Taking the time and the love to raise up a playful puppy in a healthy manner so that it can become a healthy guide dog for someone else!!!!

There is someone here at the Loo Erf who came in as a volunteer and he has affected me greatly. He loves what he does and it shows. The tricks and tips and encouragement that he has given me are gifts. It is a treat to have a braille lesson or a Dutch session with him. Personally, I think he has given this place a piece of his heart over the last ten years.

When I was in my 20s, I spent time doing an internship that involved those with mental illness. I gave several hours per week to those who were in need and in return I received a new view of life. They taught me to laugh in a new way. They taught me understanding. I learned so much from each of them. I still think of them and wonder where they are now.

We used to watch one of the animal rescue shows. Many of the animals were depressed and beaten down, but with the love and help of volunteers, they became “cute animals.” So we renamed the show “cute animals.” Volunteers are great!!!! Volunteers change lives.

My Pitch

Think about giving some of your time. The rewards are phenomenal. The sacrifice is well worth what the recipient will return to you in love and appreciation. Get out there on the web and Google up your loves, because somewhere out there, someone needs you to give to them.